Chapter 5 : Fact of Nature #5: You should never underestimate your pet’s ability to cramp your style.
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“Awesome match Albus!”
“Go Go Gryffindor!”
Such were the shouts and calls I heard as I entered the common room, freshly showered and ready for a good old fashioned Gryffindor victory party. My muscles were pretty sore after the massive tumble I’d taken in order to beat that prat Malfoy to the snitch, but it was definitely worth it. I spotted Fred and Louis handing out bottles of butterbeer and wandered over for a drink.
“Great work out there today mate!” Louis raised his bottle in a mock salute as I took a sip.
“Well it was no thanks to this moron here,” I nodded towards Fred with a smirk. Fred groaned and smacked himself in the forehead.
“I’m such an idiot!” He said. “I just panicked; I’m a beater, my father was a beater and my namesake was a beater. I have no idea whatsoever to do with a quaffle!”
“Wasn’t your mum a chaser?” I asked before taking another sip. Louis snorted into his own butterbeer.
“Oh shut up!” Fred grumbled, though a small grin did cross his face. “Got the whole student body laughing though didn’t it? Can’t top Fred Weasley for a laugh!”
“Mate, it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years,” Louis grinned, slapping him on the back. “Maybe ever!”
I left my two cousins to their discussion of funny moments to do a lap of the room, looking for some of my other friends. Ok so maybe I was looking for Lucy – what good is being the match winning seeker of an awesome Quidditch team if you can’t use it to impress the girl you fancy? I’d finished my butterbeer and tossed out the bottle before I finally spotted her, curled up on a small two-seater sofa, her hands around a bottle of butterbeer and that beautiful smile on her face as she chatted with someone I couldn’t see.
I was floored for a moment with just how pretty she really was. It wasn’t an ‘in-your-face’ sort of beauty, the kind that other girls flaunted to get a boy’s attention, it was a sort of natural beauty that had as much to do with her personality as it did with her wide expressive eyes and the light smattering of freckles across her perfectly symmetrical nose. She shifted slightly in her seat and laughed, the sound seemed to travel across all of the other noise in the room and made me smile as I watched her for a few more minutes.
I was just convincing myself that I could amble over to her and be all charming and sexy and ‘hey-did-you-notice-how-I-pulled-off-that-awesome-catch-of-the-snitch-today’ when the crowd parted slightly and I realised who Lucy was talking to. James Sirius Potter, my own freaking brother, was nestled in the seat next to Lucy, leaning forward and talking to her quite intensely. How could he do this to me? I mean I get that Lucy is gorgeous and all, but she’s two years younger than him and it is not ok! I found myself quickly pushing through the crowd, determined to put an end to this immediately. James was laughing at something Lucy had said as I approached, though they both noticed me and looked up when I stopped in front of them.
“Hey,” James said, glancing up at me with a smile. Oh that’s right, smile as you steal the one girl I actually fancy away from me. And you call yourself my brother! Traitor is more likely.
“Hey,” was what I actually managed to say in response.
“Hey is for horses,” Lucy said, and I turned to her, my body reacting to her voice instinctively. “And you know…cows and sheep and gnomes and stuff…” She babbled quietly. It was sort of adorable and if I had not been so mad at James right then, I probably would have laughed. But I was mad, and I needed to sort things out with James straight away. And by sort things out I mean tell him to keep his stupid, seventh year hands off Lucy.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?” I said to him, trying not to clench my fists as I did so.
“Um, I guess so. Sorry Lucy, you don’t mind do you?” He said, turning to look at Lucy, who was wearing a rather curious expression on her face. Dang it Al! Why didn’t you ask her if it was ok? Now James looks like the sweet considerate one and you just look like a moron. Let’s just add it to that ‘I’m-a-git-who-ignored-you-for-four-years’ image, shall we?
Lucy was saying something and I chastised myself for not paying more attention, though I managed to gauge that she was giving her blessing for James to leave because he was standing and looking at me expectantly. With the briefest of glances in Lucy’s direction (yep, I’m a totally rude git who doesn’t deserve her!) I stalked out of the common room, James hot on my heels.
“Great match today little brother!” James slapped me on the back as we walked down the corridor. “I doubt Dad could have done much better in his day.”
I ignored the extremely kind compliment from my brother and headed around a corner, looking for an unlocked classroom. I found one and indicated I wanted James to follow me inside.
“Everything ok?” He asked as I closed the door behind myself and turned to face him. “You didn’t hurt yourself too bad out there today did you? I know you said you were alright but if something doesn’t feel right we should get you to the hospital wing straight away.”
“I’m fine James,” I said tersely.
“Oh, ok,” He looked relieved. “So what’s up?”
“What’s up?” I repeated. “Well I was going to ask you same thing brother dearest. Like maybe what’s up with you and Lucy Bell?”
“Huh?” James had the audacity to pretend to be confused.
“Don’t play dumb with me James, you obviously fancy her. I think she’s a bit young for you, and you’re not really her type, I don’t think she’d be into the whole pretty boy, Quidditch captain thing.” I practically snarled. The logical part of my brain was trying to tell me to calm down but the hormonal part of my brain, the part that wanted Lucy, the dominant part of my brain, was winning out.
“Al, hold up there mate, you’ve got the wrong idea,” James said in an almost-laugh. “There’s nothing between me and Lucy, I promise you.”
“Yeah right James, so what did you call what you were doing in there then?” I growled. “I saw you all snuggled up with her on the sofa, putting on the James Potter charm, laughing at all her jokes and flirting like crazy!”
“Al you’re being ridiculous,” James shook his head condescendingly, the smirk still on his lips.
“I’m just saying what I saw, it didn’t look ridiculous to me,” I snapped.
“So you’re not going to believe me then, your own brother?” James asked, the smirk gone from his face now. I’d clearly offended him but I didn’t care, I was still angry.
“Well that depends on whether or not you’re lying to me. I don’t understand what you were doing,” I challenged him, daring him to explain his little ‘interaction’ with Lucy. James rolled his eyes.
“I’m sorry brother, I wasn’t aware I had to ask your permission to live my life, but for the record it wasn’t what you think. It was….” His voice drifted away for a second, like he was trying to find the right way to explain what he’d been doing.
“Well…well that’s not important.” James looked almost embarrassed as he shook his head. “But why does it matter to you so much? Why do you care?” James raised his eyes in that perceptive-big-brother way. I opened my mouth to speak but couldn’t think of the right words that wouldn’t incriminate me. Normally I wouldn’t have an issue with telling James about a girl I liked, but I still wasn’t entirely sure he was telling me the truth.
“It doesn’t matter, I just don’t think you’re right for her,” I finally said, feeling a bit defeated.
“I’ve already told you, I’m not interested in her Al! She’s all yours!” James cried. My heart skipped a beat – he knows! How can he know? Am I really that obvious?
“What? That’s not why I’m… all mine? No…I…” I spluttered, trying to sound cool and calm.
“Al, seriously you’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m getting a bit beyond schoolgirls personally,” James sighed. “If you like her, just go for it mate.” I gulped at his words…maybe he was telling the truth, maybe he wasn’t after Lucy after all. Though that still didn’t explain what he was doing carrying on with her in the common room like that. “And if you’re not going to admit it to yourself,” He continued, “I’d rather you get off my case, especially since I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Before I could say anything else, James rolled his eyes at me again, turned and left the room, leaving me feeling slightly annoyed and ever so stupid. I let out a sigh of frustration and followed James out into the hallway, though as I turned to pull the door closed behind me, I realised there was someone leaning against the wall outside the classroom.
Lucy was standing there, her eyes closed and her head back against the stone as she let out a breath. Sweet Merlin, I do have it bad. Now I’m hallucinating that I’m seeing her everywhere! I blinked rapidly, but she was still there, so I thought I’d test the depth of my insanity.
“Bell?” Her eyes opened in surprise. If she was a hallucination surely she wouldn’t be responding to me, right? “What are you doing here?” I asked. She looked startled, panicked even. Definitely not a hallucination.
“I was….well I um…I was just going up to the Owlery?” She said it like a question, as though she were unsure.
“Is that a question?” I cocked my head curiously.
“No…it’s a statement…” She looked nervous and she bit her lip, which only dragged my attention to that part of her body, and thinking about her lips led to thinking about kissing those lips...No! I forced myself to ignore the image of me kissing Lucy and focussed on more pressing matters such as How long had Lucy been standing there and exactly how much she had heard.
“So you were going up to the Owlery and just happened to stop here, outside this classroom?” I said, trying to sound normal.
“Well, I heard voices, you guys sounded really angry,” She said. Crap, I really need to keep my voice down when I’m accusing people of trying to chat up Lucy!
“How much did you hear?” I said, my voice cracking slightly and betraying me. What if she heard the whole thing and worked out that I like her? Oh sweet Merlin!
“Not much. Just James telling you to get off his case; I get it, I fight with my brothers all the time,” She assured me. I watched her curiously, to try and sense any indication she might not be telling me the truth. Lucy had said she was an awful liar but the other day in Divination, she’d pulled one over on Trelawney pretty well. Then again Trelawney was a few tea leaves short of a prediction…
“That’s all you heard?” I asked, just to be sure, though I was starting to wonder if my neurosis was making her suspicious.
“That’s all I heard,” She promised. “Why? What were you fighting about? Has one of you killed someone and now you’re worried the other is going to turn you in to the ministry?” Her eyes twinkled as she gave me a teasing grin. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“Not quite that dramatic Bell, just brothers arguing, you know how it is,” I was glad to hear my voice was back to normal.
“So you’re not a cold blooded killer? You know if it was a particularly nasty Slytherin I wouldn’t blame you.” She grinned at me again and I couldn’t help but grin back, her smile was kind of infectious.
“Don’t think I haven’t considered it,” I replied, though my mind was drifting more to a certain Hufflepuff prat as my future murder victim.
“Oh, we’ve all considered it; it’s just the rare few that act on it. But don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. If the department of Magical Law Enforcement finds out, it won’t be because I told them.” She said with mock seriousness, though her eyes continued to twinkle mischievously. This girl is all kinds of awesome! “I should probably get up to the Owlery,” She said suddenly, glancing down the hallway.
“Oh, yeah…ok,” I said, disappointed. I’d just been enjoying the one-on-one time with her, away from the prying eyes of our friends and now she wanted to take off again. Although, she had said she was on her way to the Owlery so maybe she really did need to go there. Summoning some Gryffindor bravery I asked a very scary question. “Fancy some company?”
“Oh…well…um…” She stammered and my heart fell. Not exactly falling over herself to spend time with you, is she Mr Hot-Shot Quidditch player? My self-doubt taunted me.
“Oh, well I don’t have to,” I said, trying to keep my voice light. “You meeting your secret lover up there or something? Another rendezvous with Arthur Kennilworthy perhaps?” It was a long shot but I thought that maybe if I reminded her of our detention together she’d remember how much fun I could be.
“Don’t say stuff like that too loudly. Someone might hear you! I have a reputation to uphold!” She whispered loudly, flapping her hands at me, though I could see from her smile that she was only joking.
“I’d feel that way if Kennilworthy was my secret lover too,” I teased.
“Alright, you can come along if you stop saying you-know-who is my secret lover,” She sighed over-dramatically and indicated for me to follow her down the hallway. I didn’t need to be told twice. We bantered back and forth for a while before falling into a comfortable silence, well as comfortable as a silence can be when you’re trying not to look at a pretty girl too often. As we reached the stairs to the Owlery, I found myself wondering who was so important that Lucy had to send a letter to them in the middle of a party. Maybe she’s got a boyfriend back home, some older muggle guy who works in a pub and rides one of those loud muggle thingies…what do they call them? Motorbikes?
“So who are you writing to?” I said casually, hoping it wasn’t too personal a question.
“Oh just my sister,” She replied and relief flooded through me as the image of Lucy’s hypothetical muggle boyfriend, who had morphed into someone very large with enormous muscles (and oddly enough a handlebar moustache) disappeared from my mind. She was patting her pockets, saying something about needing a quill to add something to her letter and glancing back down the stairs as though she were considering going back to the dormitories.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, here I’ll show you something,” I said, climbing up the last few stairs and showing her the secret compartment Victoire had created in her seventh year. In the back of my mind I realised I probably shouldn’t have been giving away family secrets without consulting my cousins, but I knew that once I explained that it was a secret, Lucy wouldn’t go around blabbing to everyone. I handed her the quill and bottle of ink and then went to find Kenrick, my owl, so that she could have some privacy to write whatever it was that she needed to.
I patted my tawny owl as I watched her writing, her bottom lip once more between her teeth as she thought about what she was writing. Kenrick nudged me gently when my hand stopped moving and I grinned at him as I scratched his head. I loved Kenrick, he’d been a gift from my parents when I started at Hogwarts, and they’d done the same for James and Lily. Dad said that Hagrid had given him his first owl as a birthday present just before he started at Hogwarts, the same day he’d found out about the wizarding world, and he thought it would make a nice family tradition.
“Hedwig was like a best friend,” He’d explained, tears in his eyes. “When I was locked away from my friends and school and magic during the summer, she was my one living connection to everything I loved. She was my reminder that it was all real, and she died protecting me.”
My Dad can be a bit intense like that sometimes, but I suppose when you’re born during a war, lose your parents as a baby, live through oppression throughout your entire childhood and then have to battle the world’s most powerful dark wizard at the age of 17, you kind of have a right to get all mushy and emotional about things like dead owls.
Lucy refolded her parchment and climbed to her feet, placing the quill and ink pot neatly back in the secret compartment.
“Done?” I asked cheerily. “Here, you can use Kenrick if you like,” I held out my arm towards her, feeling a bit stupid at the gesture. I mean a girl as crazy about animals as Lucy, she probably had her own owl.
“Oh…really? Are you sure? What if you need him?” Her eyes lit up as she looked at Kenrick, and I thanked whatever deity might be listening that I’d made the right move.
“Well I’m not planning on sending any letters today and unless your sister lives in Africa, I’m sure he’ll be back by the time I need him,” I joked. It was all the encouragement Lucy needed. She approached slowly and stroked Kenrick gently as though asking permission before attaching the letter to his leg. Kenrick watched her curiously, though not in the wary, suspicious way he did when someone else tried to use him for sending mail (he once bit my mum so hard her finger started bleeding. It was the only time she said a swear word in front of me…at least that she knows of!), it was more of an affectionate look, as though he were somehow, inexplicably drawn to her.
I know the feeling buddy, I told him telepathically.
Lucy continued to stroke his feathers and Kenrick nipped playfully at her fingers before nudging her hand. There was no doubt about it, my owl was bloody flirting with her! Lucy giggled, a completely adorable sound, and grinned at Kenrick as she finished tying the knot. Her entire face seemed to light up as he batted his big, round owl eyes at her. Al, get serious! You’re jealous of a sodding bird!
“I think he likes you,” I whispered, talking more about myself than Kenrick. Lucy looked up at me, her eyes meeting mine. She was standing incredibly close, so close that I could smell her hair and count the freckles on her nose.
“I like him too,” She said, still staring straight into my eyes, and for the briefest second, I let myself think she was talking about me and not my owl. I felt a rather pleasant chill run through me as we stood there, our proximity to each other felt rather intimate, and we were all alone for once. Well almost all alone. Kenrick decided he wasn’t getting enough action so he flapped his wings irritably, breaking the spell between us.
Bloody bird. Go after your own species why don’t you?
Lucy turned her attention to Kenrick, crooning to him as she held out her arm for him to hop over. I watched her as she carried him over to the window, her cheeks were pink with an embarrassed blush – though I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. For all I knew, she thought I’d been coming on to her and it had made her uncomfortable.
“We should probably get back to the party,” She said once Kenrick had flown away. “People might start wondering where their star seeker is.” I would have been happy to spend the rest of the afternoon with her in the Owlery, but I doubted she’d take that suggestion very well. I followed her from the room, determined to make the most of the time we had left together before we reached the crowds of people in the common room where she’d no doubt find someone more interesting to talk to. I remembered something my Uncle Ron had once said about complimenting girls.
“You know Bell, you really are amazing with animals. Kenrick doesn’t normally like new people.” I said.
“Well we all have our talents I guess,” She said modestly. “You’re an amazing Quidditch player and I can talk to birds. Although nobody’s ever thrown me a party for getting an O in Care of Magical Creatures,” she laughed at the statement but I didn’t. An uncomfortable knot formed in my stomach, it was the same feeling I’d experienced when I’d first realised I’d been ignoring Lucy for four years.
“It does seem a bit ridiculous I suppose. We do put a lot of focus on Quidditch here, don’t we?” I had never really thought about it before, but whilst Lucy and Jane were best friends, Jane was by far the more popular and well-known of the two, all because of Quidditch. It didn’t seem at all fair, especially when Lucy was just as funny, clever and talented as Jane, not to mention extremely pretty.
“Of course we do,” She laughed. “Because Quidditch is awesome and it gives us a way to execute high-exposure humiliation of Slytherin. Plus, everyone can enjoy Quidditch, even if they’re not playing. My essay on Porlocks isn’t exactly a group activity!” There was no malice in her expression, she simply accepted the fact that her particular talents, whilst extremely impressive, were in no way something to gain her any attention from the student body.
“Well I still think it’s impressive,” I said, hoping she would realise that I was genuine and that even if nobody else cared about her skills, I certainly admired her for it. Lucy simply gave me an embarrassed smile so I let it drop.
Her point was proven when we reached the common room. Despite the fact we’d entered the room together, I was seized upon by excited Quidditch fans immediately, who paid Lucy no attention.
“Albus, you were absolutely amazing out there! You reckon we’re going to win the cup this year?” A sixth year whose name I couldn’t remember slung his arm over my shoulder and dragged me over to his group of friends. I glanced over my shoulder, but Lucy had already disappeared into the throng, leaving me to the mercy of the nameless sixth year, his three mates and a group of giggling girls standing nearby.
“Al!” A familiar voice cut through the giggles as Rose pushed her way over to me and gave me a hug, rescuing me from the awkward conversation. “Where have you been? Oh never mind, fantastic game today, it was so exciting. I just about squeezed poor Lucy’s hand off!”
“Lucy?” I asked, my curiosity sparked at her name. “You were sitting with Lucy?”
“Well duh Al, who else would Gwen and I sit with? Sheesh you’re a bit dense sometimes, aren’t you?” Rose rolled her eyes at me. “She was well into it, actually screamed when you fell off your broom! Her brother’s really into Quidditch, must be where she gets it from. Anyway, you were spectacular, Dad always said your dad was a great seeker so I bet he’ll be proud when he hears about this game!”
“Yeah,” I replied, though I was concerned less about my Dad’s reaction to the game and more about someone else’s entirely.
AN: So I know this is a super quick update but I'm having computer problems and I don't know how soon I'll be able to update again, so I thought I'd get chapter 5 up while I can. I hope you guys liked it, I really enjoyed writing this chapter. Thanks as always for your lovely reviews, I love hearing your thoughts about Al. As always, here's a little sneak peek at the next chapter. This preview is actually part of something I wrote a long time ago, back when I wrote the original chapter from Lucy's POV so I hope you enjoy it!
“Al, please just stop for a second,” Rose pleaded, but I was already ranting, my frustrations boiling over. I pulled my wand out of my pocket and looked it, this was going to be my weapon against that arse McMillan.
“He is going to pay Rosie, he is going to suffer for what he did to her and I am going to be the one to do it…”
“Al you’re being ridiculous,” Rose begged.
“Actually, I think I’ll use crucio, that way he can suffer for a nice, long time,”
“ALBUS SEVERUS POTTER!” Rose roared, her voice echoing through the corridor and startling me. She whipped out her wand and pointed it at me. “Expelliarmus,” She snapped and my wand flew from my fingers. She reached out and caught it, tucking it into her back pocket while she kept her eyes on me. “You need to take a deep breath and calm down,” She lowered the volume of her voice but the anger was still there, she sounded frighteningly like Grandma Weasley. “I realise that you are angry, I am pretty mad myself, but would you actually listen to yourself? Unforgivable curses Al? I mean, really? Number one you’d be expelled, Number two even your Dad couldn’t stop them chucking you in Azkaban and Number three…as if you’d actually be able to do it.” She couldn’t resist the opportunity to roll her eyes at me.
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